Every year, in the days leading up to June 4th, Chinese authorities have consistently banned the words ‘Tiananmen’ and ‘June 4′ – a place and a date. But this time around, the Chinese government has outdone itself. It went further, banning neutral words such as ‘square,’ and the numbers 6, 4, and 89. Not to mention images of candles.
When a government feels so existentially threatened by mere numbers, shapes and images, it has fundamentally lost its power and legitimacy. The Chinese authorities have gone nuts. And why shouldn’t they?
From Tunisia to Egypt to Burma, dictators are losing and democracy is gaining. This net growth in freedom worldwide is the most reliable indicator of where China too is headed. The more freedom grows around the world, the harder it gets for the remaining dictatorships and the leftover tyrants to survive.
That’s why Beijing is cracking down on its netizens, activists, and innocent citizens. That’s why it is escalating its repression in Tibet and East Turkestan. That’s why China’s internal security budget has surpassed its national defense budget. Like a wounded and dying tiger, it is making one last lunge for survival.
But if history holds any lesson, then the Chinese government’s days are numbered. The Chinese regime’s repressive streak – arresting people for the smallest of crimes, shooting at monks who are already burning, banning words and dates and even numbers – is reminiscent of the way the Soviet Union behaved in its final years, the way Milosevic behaved in his final months, and the way Mubarak and Ben Ali behaved in their final weeks.
This is the ultimate sign that the Chinese government has already been struck down in the great battle with freedom and democracy. It has no power, only the apparatus of power; it has no legitimacy, only the facade of legitimacy. Thus, it is only a matter of time before democracy comes to China, before freedom comes to Tibet.